PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office tells KDKA, it has made certain inquiries concerning the payments of gifts to city employees on Mayor Bill Peduto’s “Undercover Boss” appearance.
While most of the money came from private donors, at least one agency, VisitPittsburgh, receives some of its money from taxpayers.READ MORE: Pickup Truck Collides With School Bus, No Serious Injuries Reported
The CBS reality show “Undercover Boss” was a bigtime showcase for the city. Mayor Peduto went undercover, and the payoff was $150,000 given to city employees as gifts.
Now District Attorney Stephen Zappala is questioning if the use of tax dollars for those city employees is legal.
In a statement Zappala said: “Regarding the legality of this, that’s public money. That money cannot be disseminated as a bonus. They are not permitted to do that. The salaries of public employees are negotiated. You cannot just give a bonus.”
One day later, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner released this statement: “The questions raised by District Attorney Zappala will also result in the return of the initial $25,000 that has already been released to the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority.”
Mayor Peduto’s Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin says there is nothing illegal, inappropriate or unethical about the money raised and he can prove it.READ MORE: Pennsylvania Weather: Some Northwestern Pa. Neighborhoods See Snow On Mother's Day
“We thoroughly vetted this. The whole structure for solicitations for CBS’s ‘Undercover Boss,’” said Acklin. “We looked very closely at state and city code; we think we’re fully in compliance.”
Lost in all of this, Acklin says is the tremendous benefit to the city.
“We’re also just proud of the representation that was done of Pittsburgh. It promoted the city to the whole country and represented our hardworking city employees,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources confirm the state Ethics Commission is also looking into the donations to the city employees. The mayor’s office has indicated they are willing to discuss the issue with the District Attorney or anyone with the Ethics Commission at any time.
The District Attorney’s Office sent KDKA the following statement: “District Attorney Zappala believes that the County Controller and the unions who represent city workers both have standing to try and determine whether payments made to workers as part of the ‘Undercover Boss’ program represented illegal bonuses. Although we have made certain inquiries concerning the payments, of which I cannot be more specific, our office has no active investigation involving the city’s participation in the program.”MORE NEWS: Jason Gagorik Steps In As New Chief Of Whitehall Borough Police Department